What do you think of this story? A guy who has never written a book before decides to write a 10-book series. He completes only three of the 10 before he dies suddenly at the age of 50, not living long enough to see any of them published. The three books become enormous bestsellers, earning millions of dollars.
Then there is a fight over money between the writer’s family and his long-time companion, Eva, who would be considered a common law wife in places that recognize common law wives. However, they don’t recognize common law wives where Eva lives, so she isn’t legally entitled to any of the money. The family offers her a settlement, but she refuses. In another twist, Eva says that the writer was working on the fourth book, and the unfinished work is on his laptop. She refuses to disclose the whereabouts of it.
The writer’s best friend confirms that the writer was working on the book on his laptop. The friend adds, rather curiously, that the writer had finished the beginning and end of the book, but hadn’t written the middle before he died.
To top this oddity, the late writer’s brother reveals that the fourth book was really meant to be the fifth book in the series, but his brother started it before he started the fourth book, because he thought the fifth book would be “more fun” to write than the fourth.
Too hard to follow? Too far-fetched? Too ridiculous? I agree, but as many of you know, it’s also the behind-the-scenes story of Stieg Larsson, the author of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.” Walk past any bookstore, get on an airplane, or go into that little store at the car wash, and you’re bound to see these books. So what do you think? Did somebody make up the story behind the stories just to sell more books?
After the first two books were released and became enormously popular, cynic that I am, I told a friend that if the third book was also popular, don’t be surprised if someone suddenly “finds” a fourth book. I never would have guessed all the other twists and turns of the story, but maybe that’s why I’m not a successful novelist — or someone who’s promoted a book — or someone who’s inherited millions of dollars from a book.
I actually think it’s one of those stories that is too unbelievable, too convoluted to be made up. It’s a “stranger than fiction” story, but that doesn’t make it any less dramatic. In fact, I guarantee — repeat, guarantee — that at the very least, a TV movie will be written about “The Unauthorized True Story of Stieg Larsson, His Premature Death, and the Books That Lived on after His Demise.”
Larsson’s story is fascinating, and it proves once again that some writers are often more interesting than what we write. I’m not bragging, but I have many things in common with Larsson. I, too, use a computer to write. I have a brother. Sometimes I have trouble with the English language.
At the moment, I’m not besieged by fans everywhere I go, and neither was Larsson. Now and then I’ve seen people at the Starbucks on Ocean Park reading my column, but it’s not as if I need a bodyguard. Like many artists before him, Larsson didn’t live long enough to enjoy his fame.
I don’t see any reason for me to wait until after my death for incredible fame and fortune. I’m a much better writer now than I will be after my death. I’d like to think that the quality of my columns will be what gets millions of people to read my work. However, if that doesn’t do the trick, let’s just say I have another column on a laptop, and I’m not telling anyone where it is.
If that still doesn’t bring me zillions of dollars, I’ve instructed my best friend to reveal that this column is not the first, but the eighth in a series of 17 columns. It’s just that I thought this one would be “more fun” to write.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from “Sesame Street” to “Family Ties” to “Home Improvement” to “Frasier.” He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his website at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.